The future of African women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers

Women worldwide pursuing careers in science are only 28%, and just 30% of professionals in the sciences in Sub-Saharan Africa are women.

These statistics , released by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, bring to light the huge gap between women and men in exploring careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, collectively known as STEM.

These male-dominated fields which lack women, due to inadequate encouragement of girls to pursue mathematics and science at the early school-going age, has been a cause for worry to many including the United Nations which was compelled last year to adopt a resolution to establish an annual International Day to commemorate the role girls and women play in science and technology.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, during the celebration of the first International Day of Women and Girls in Science called on all governments and partners to “redouble efforts to empower girls and women through and in science, as a foundation to take forward the 2030 Agenda.

This initiative brought to life the International Day of Women and Girls in Science celebrated annually on February 11 to promote female inclusion and participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

Only a year old, the objective has a long way to be achieved especially for Africa where the sciences are still a reserve for men.

This gender imbalance is being challenged by Ghana’s All Nations University College, Department of Biomedical Engineering, where the Head of Department, Mr Archibald Ekow Danquah-Amoah acknowledged the lack of courage on the part of women to venture into the sciences and engineering but believes the trend is changing.

“In our department we have more women applying than men and currently women make up about 70% of the entire students in the department and they perform better,” Mr Danquah-Amoah, who is also the patron of the National Society of Black Engineers (Ghana) in the school, said in an interview with Africanews’ Ismail Akwei.

Mr Archibald Ekow Danquah-Amoah added that girls should be awarded scholarships to pursue science education so as to encourage them to pursue STEM careers which will aid in bringing gender equity in both the academic and professional fields.

Meanwhile, the Ghana Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), an association founded in the United States to promote the engagement of blacks in both academic and professional fields of engineering, has been organising events to draw the interest of students into the field.

A Pre-College initiative (PCI) programme organised by the NSBE to stimulate the interest of STEM subjects in High School students held at the All Nations University College in Ghana in February created an opportunity for some of the women of the biomedical engineering department of the university to exhibit some of their inventions.

“We inspired the children to appreciate engineering and with a little push and support they will grow to help the engineering society of Africa, “ said NSBE President of the university, Goodluck Seiyefa. Read More: 

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